Bring the Heat: How 1:1 Meetings Ignite Employee Engagement

Guest Contributorby Erik Hobbins | Posted | Performance Management

Bring the Heat: How 1:1 Meetings Ignite Employee Engagement

Everyone has the potential to find their spark - that special motivation that gets them in the flow of work. But it's not enough to expect that your people will be able to nurture that spark into a flame completely on their own. They need the right environment and the right support from their managers to be able to channel that energy into results. Managers can give that spark oxygen during regular, 1:1 meetings where employees and managers can share feedback freely. This feedback is a catalyst in transforming individuals into engaged employees.

Engaged employees are more likely to be high-potential, high-performing employees who are able to tap into that spark and make it work for themselves, their team and the organization.

The opposite is also true. Disengaged or unengaged employees have a tendency to be a wet blanket. Recent research from Gallup's Global Workforce survey abounds with data that underscores the true, bottom-line importance of employee engagement. Among the highlights, disengaged employees:

  • Love to complain, which brings down overall morale
  • Are late more frequently, use more sick time and blow more deadlines
  • Cause their teams to sell 20 percent less than teams with highly engaged workers
  • Pass on their negativity to customers, frequently resulting in more customer complaints, dissatisfaction and loss

So not only do disengaged employees bring down team (and business) productivity, they can also be a major challenge to work with for teammates, managers and customers alike.

So what can managers do about it? It's time for regular, ongoing 1:1 meetings where employees can give and get feedback. When you're able to give and receive feedback, you've got some skin in the game. You experience what it's like to engage in a dialogue about everything from performance, learning and development (L&D), career path, and the organization itself, just to name a few topics. (Here are 10 more insightful 1:1 meeting questions to get you started.)

Share feedback freely during 1:1 meetings to boost employee engagement.
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Yet managers aren't holding regular, ongoing meetings with their employees, letting that spark of engagement get just a little dimmer with each passing cycle.

1:1 meetings: Enabling employee engagement

So what's going on with managers? Why aren't they holding 1:1 meetings when evidence shows that holding 1:1 meetings should be the start of talent development strategies? We asked our customers for the reasons why their managers tell HR that they aren't conducting 1:1 meetings or giving regular feedback. Here are their top five reasons why:

  1. I have no time
  2. I already do 1:1s and give feedback
  3. I'm not sure what to talk about or where to start
  4. I already know how everything's going
  5. We did it already via email

There are several ways to overcome the reasons why your people aren't holding 1:1 meetings. At this point in the evolution of a people-centric workplace, HR is well-aware of managers' challenges.

Fanning the engagement flames with strong HR support

This is where HR can respond with proactive solutions. In fact, here are some strong responses HR can use to shine the light back on how managers can think critically about their own role in employee-manager 1:1 meetings. Ask:

  • You have no time for your employees?
  • Really? Can you share with me what your agenda was for those meetings?
  • Would you like me to give you some agenda items and help you build those ahead of time?
  • Really? So who are your top employees or underperformers and what is the plan for them moving forward?
  • Send me your agenda for those meetings as I'd love to share these topics across the management team

Share resources and brainstorm ideas with your managers - get them actively involved in the process and help guide them to exactly what the ultimate 1:1 meeting looks like. Help them to see that a 1:1 meeting is more than a formality. It's a relationship.

Tried it all but you're still experiencing some pushback or - dare I say it - managerial disengagement? Then it's time to get your C-Suite more involved. A culture of engagement requires buy-in from the bottom-up and from the top-down. It could even be time to give some upward feedback to the C-Suite.

Break glass in case of managerial disengagement

The C-Suite needs a clear understanding of how an engaged workforce boosts the bottom line and improves the workplace environment for everyone. By encouraging them to support 1:1 meetings and continuous feedback, they'll foster:

  • Managers who actually know their employees (and what makes them tick)
  • Valuable information for the retention strategy
  • A healthy culture that emerges more naturally
  • Company goals that are now living and breathing
  • A truly engaged workforce

A culture that supports continuous feedback and open, ongoing employee-manager dialogue is a strong sign of a culture of engagement. Increasing employee feedback, manager feedback and 1:1 meetings ignite a culture of employee engagement.

Best of all, feedback is FREE! And it's the best resource companies can use to help drive culture and engagement. People want to know what they're doing well and how they can improve because it helps them develop and sets them (and the organization) up for success.

What are you waiting for? Start now! Download the Ultimate Guide to 1:1 Meetings for Managers and Employees eBook and help your people find the 1:1 meeting framework that works best for them. (Don't forget to ask for some feedback while you're at it!)

The Ultimate Guide To 1:1 Meetings

If you want to understand your people, you have to immerse yourself in their world with great conversations!

Free Ebook
Cover of the book
Cover of the book

The Ultimate Guide To 1:1 Meetings

If you want to understand your people, you have to immerse yourself in their world with great conversations!

Free Ebook

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